Imaginary world: A personal documentary (2013-ongoing)
It all began with skateboarding.
I was born and raised in Tbilisi, the small capital of a small country, Georgia.
Life was hard in Georgia, a poor country plagued by a recent history of conflict.
When I was around six, my parents bought our first TV set that included a surprise gift — foreign channels. They were dubbed in Russian, a foreign language, but I was mesmerized.
I used to sit in front of it and watch cartoons all day. At some point I realized that there was at least one child with a skateboard in nearly every show.
As I watched, these colorful heroes defied the laws of physics and, before I knew it, I was hooked. In my imagination, I could see myself flying through the air and skating on streets that did not exist.
These bright dreams stayed with me, like a favorite toy you rediscover, years after it fell under the bed.
The memories of my imaginary self gliding down streets on a skateboard returned to me when I was 15. I was old enough to buy my own skateboard, a metal one.
Some time later, in 2013, I got my first camera. I began taking photos of everything and everyone around me. My skateboarding friends were a natural subject. That was the beginning of this project.
By 2015, the project became more serious as I decided to expand my subjects. I started to photograph as many teenagers as I could. The result is an ongoing documentary of the lives of young Georgians, a window into their thoughts, feelings, wants and fears.
Imaginary World aims to document the life of the Georgian youth. The project uses visual language to communicates the problems facing society and the political system. Most importantly it asks the question: What it is like to be young in Georgia?
Nodari waits while we collect wild marijuana. We used to mix it with milk to create a drink called “Managua”. 2015 Mtskheta, Georgia
Several years ago there were only 20 to 30 skateboarders in Georgia and they were like one big family. Photo of a celebration after Enriko wins one of the first skateboarding contest. 2014 Tbilisi, Georgia
Slam dancing is a violent form of dancing, originally invented as part of the punk movement. 2015 Tbilisi, Georgia
A skateboarder has started a graffiti project, known as “lamb” in Tbilisi. The artist is using graffiti to question social beliefs and traditions. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
There are just three girls in Georgia who consider themselves skateboarders, including Kate and Mariam, both 18. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
Guri, 19, was arrested for possession of marijuana two weeks after this photo was taken. He had several kilograms in his possession when he was detained and he paid 10,000 lari to avoid jail time. 2015 Mtskheta, Georgia
Tornike is 23. He used to be addicted to alcohol. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
Lasha, 20, performs at a underground drag show at Succes, a local bar. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
There is only one skate park in Tbilisi. It was built in 2009 and does not offer many challenges for skateboarders, so they often try to make changes. In this photo, they are using a piece of stone to build a ledge. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
Today young people are selling drugs because it is the quickest way to earn money. The photo shows earnings from a single night of selling drugs. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
Giorgi, 20, hugs Sandro after being released from jail. Giorgi was arrested in 2014 for petty theft. 2017 Ksani, Georgia
Girls running into a lake. 2017 Tbilisi, Georgia
Skateboarders walking in an open-top culvert. 2016 Gori, Georgia
Dance became a form of protest on May 13 after youth activists started a demonstration in support of Georgia’s club culture. Lasha and Elene dance at the demonstration. 2018 Tbilisi, Georgia
Photo from the 13 May protests. Protesters raised their hands to show the counter demonstration that they did not want to fight. 2018 Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgian national activists trying to break the police barrier separating them and the youth activists on May 13. 2018 Tbilisi, Georgia
Police raided night clubs in Tbilisi late on May 12 as part of an anti-drug operation. Innocent dancers were arrested in the raid. In response, youth activists protested against police aggression for three days. A man writes “Don't arrest me” on the pavement at the protest. 2018 Tbilisi, Georgia
On May 13 Georgian nationalists held a counter protest against an ongoing youth demonstration. The nationalists were protesting against Georgia’s club culture and LGBTQ rights. Two unidentified girls kissing after the demonstration. 2018 Tbilisi, Georgia